Friday, July 29, 2016

Health and Mental Health

Recently I saw the phrase: ‘No health without mental health.’ It impressed me again with the close connection between brain and body. Candace B. Pert PhD reportedly coined the term BodyMind in an effort to explain how brain and body, the conscious and the subconscious, are often inexplicitly intertwined. Pert, a world-recognized pharmacologist, led the team that discovered opiate receptors in the brain and was a research professor in the department of physiology and biophysics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She also held a variety of research positions with the National Institutes of Health, including chief of the section on brain biochemistry of the Clinical Neuroscience Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. Widely published, Bert authored some of my favorite resource books including: Molecules of Emotion, Why You Feel the Way You Feel, and Your Body is You Subconscious Mind. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Anxiety, Depression, and Viral Diseases

A review of studies by Steven S. Coughlin PhD (senior epidemiologist in the Post-Deployment Health Epidemiology Program in the Department of Veterans Affairs and an Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University.) found a two-way linkage between viral diseases and anxiety and depression. Individuals experiencing anxiety and depression may be less careful about exhibiting behaviors that increase their potential exposure to viruses such as Herpes Simplex, HIV, Hepatitis C, Influenza viruses, and varicella-zoster. Conversely, viral diseases may contribute to anxiety and depression. For some years now, mental health issues and infectious diseases have been recognized as global problems world-wide. No surprise, this points out the need to seek professional help in managing conditions involving anxiety and depression and the importance of avoiding or preventing exposure to disease-producing viruses whenever possible—to say nothing of the need for appropriate medical treatment for viral-related diseases.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Anxiety and Depression

Unfortunately, anxiety and mood disorders are believed to be among the most common mental health conditions in the general populations of low, middle, and high-income countries around the world. Anxiety and mood disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, acute anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar illness, and other mood disorders. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV), describe generalized anxiety disorder as characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety and worry over a period of at least six months. Symptoms include restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. Acute stress disorder occurs within four weeks of a traumatic event and is characterized by symptoms similar to those seen in PTSD. Now concerns are being raised about the connection between anxiety and depression and an increased risk for viral diseases.

Brain and Anxiety

A recent study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reported that anxiety symptoms in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment are associated with medial temporal brain atrophy and predict conversion to Alzheimer's disease. Knowing this, you might evaluate how much you worry and the level of your everyday anxiety. Worry never solves anything; it can negatively impact your life. In terms of brain function, prevention is typically better than cure—although individuals with mild cognitive impairment reportedly have improved their memory and brain function through a variety of brain-enhancing life-style changes. Based on this study, altering one’s habitual behavior patterns related to worry and anxiety would be one of those important life-style changes. When you become aware of a thought that is anxious or worrisome, take steps to prevent or solve whatever it is you are worried about insofar as it is possible to do so. Then let go of the worry. Whenever the thought pops up try telling yourself:  ‘Mary, you let go of that thought. You are replacing it with a thought of something for which you are grateful (e.g., ‘Your name ____, are grateful for _____________’). Typically, habits of worrying can be often replaced with habits of gratitude. Seek professional help if you need assistance.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Anxiety and Alzheimer’s

A recent study led by Linda Mah MD, MHS was designed to test the hypothesis that anxiety in individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) can increase the rates of conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) is characterized by memory impairment with preservation of functional independence and is considered a transitional stage between normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD).However, rates of conversion to AD are highly variable. Some 376 participants with aMCI from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) were studied over a median period of 36 months. The results of the study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reported that anxiety symptoms in amnestic mild cognitive impairment are associated with medial temporal atrophy and predict conversion to Alzheimer's disease.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sixth Sense of Intuitive Knowing

Intuition is believed housed in the right frontal lobe or at least directed by that cerebral division-so every ‘normal’ human brain contains the mental faculty of intuition (although not everyone chooses to hone the skills it represents). Some say there is a sixth sense of intuitive knowing that is often seen in females because of the global way in which their brains are wired.

According to neuroscientist Beatrice de Gelder PhD, humans all process things that they’re not consciously aware of—it’s a sensation of ‘knowing.’ Because humans are also so dependent on a sense of sight they are not used to trusting their internal intuitive vision track. 

Joy Hirsch PhD, director of the fMRI Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center has been reported as saying, “If you find yourself in a situation that’s making you feel nervous, you may have spotted a reason for concern without even knowing it. Pay attention to the sensation.” You may want to take another look at your intuition and start building skills.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dreaming and Intuition

There are any number of interesting stories about individuals who had dreams that ended up assisting them in discovering new ideas.
  •  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, German chemist August Kekule von Stradonitz (1829–1896) is famous for having clarified the nature of aromatic compounds, which are based on the benzene molecule. He claimed to have had a dream while dozing in which he saw the figure of a snake that seized its own tail in its mouth, giving Kekule the idea for the benzene ring.
  •  James Dewey Watson, KBE (hon.), an American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist and a co-discoverers of the DNA structure, reportedly got the idea from a dream. Reportedly he dreamed of a double sided spiral staircase—which makes sense when you recall that the spiral DNA strands look something like a twisted ladder.
  •   According to NOVA, one night Einstein was riding home in a Bern streetcar. Looking back at the famous clock tower that dominated the city, he imagined the streetcar racing away from the clock tower at the speed of light. His ponderings eventually resulted in the theory of relativity (events that were simultaneous in one frame of reference were not necessarily simultaneous in another) and the world's most famous equation, E = mc2. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sensing Intuition

You may be able to experience intuition in several different ways, directly or indirectly. For example you may:

  • ·         Have a strong impression that you need to take a specific action immediately

  • ·         Perceive an internal mental picture about something only to recognize it in reality some time later on

  • ·         Mentally ‘hear’ or sense that you need to stop something that you are currently doing
  • ·         May experience a strong physical sense in your body as an aversion toward or an affinity to something or someone
  • ·         Experience a flash of insight or perceive a solution to a problem when you are day-dreaming or doing an unrelated task
  • ·         Dream about something literally or symbolically, in which case you would need to ponder the symbols and sort out what the dream might be trying to tell you.

Some suggest that when you dream about people you know, the dream is really about characteristics in those individuals that also apply to you, positive or negative, which gives you the opportunity to evaluate your behaviors and course correct as necessary.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dr. Pert and Opiates

In the 1970’s, Candace B. Pert PhD was working on a research team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the 1970s when they found the opiate receptor in the brain, one of the most sought-after objects in brain research (and later also discovered endorphins and peptide proteins). This discovery helped change the way opiate addiction was viewed and even managed. In 1978, so the story goes, this discovery earned the coveted Albert Lasker Award, touted as typical precursor to the Nobel Prize. Pert was not named in the aware, nor any of the other lab assistants cited. The protestation of this omission by neuroscientist Pert created a world-wide sensation. Nevertheless, she went on to become a leading proponent of the close connection between mind and body, and the ability of emotions to affect health—and was featured in the 2004 film ‘What the (bleep) Do We Know!?’ Unfortunately this brain explorer died of cardiac arrest Sept 12, 2013.

Improve Your Intuition, 2

Every brain is different and so is its type and level of intuition. Ways of potentially improving your intuition can include: 
  •          Tell your brain as you fall asleep at night: ‘Jim, your intuition is giving you information you need.’ Pay attention to your first thoughts as you awaken the next few mornings.
  •          Meditate or pray for a few minutes about your desires, needs, or problems, and then be alert to ideas that may pop into your mind in the next few minutes or hours
  •          Keep a tablet by your bed and jot down key points of your dreams and the spend a few minutes pondering what the dream might be trying to communicate


Monday, July 18, 2016

Improve Your Intuition

In his book Answers for Aristotle, Massimo Pigliucci pointed out that research on intuition has clearly shown is that it is a domain-specific ability. This means that a person can be very intuitive about one thing but just like an average person about other things. Intuition can improve with practice. To use it effectively, however, intuition needs to be combined with rational thought and analysis. 
  •          Take a walk. Sometimes intuitive thoughts will surface or solutions to problems pop up.
  •          Learn to recognize and pick up on changes in your body quickly. If suddenly your body signals a sense of uneasiness, ask yourself what that dis-ease is trying to tell you.

  •  Pay attention to your hunch and evaluate it. Does it fit within your moral values? Is there some way it could benefit you? Take a small step in that direction if it appears to be safe and evaluates where it leads.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Benefits of Intuition

According to French Philosopher Henri Poincare, through science we ‘prove’, while through intuition we ‘discover.’ Human brains have a built-in ability to pick up on patterns and respond to them in a nanosecond in the form of intuitive insights. What have studies shown about the benefits intuition can provide:
  •  Augments your analytical brain in decision making      
  • Opens your brain to new ideas that can lead to success
  • Enhances your ability to identify potential dangers
  •  Assists with brainstorming and problem solving
  • Assists in identifying your life vision and goals

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Intuition and Gender Differences

In research related to intuition, some gender differences were noted. Females seemed more attuned to intuitive information from the heart and were more responsive to prestimulus information than were males. Processes in the prefrontal cortex were moderated by the heart. In general, females appear to process the prestimulus more frontally; males process it more in the posterior portions of the brain. The bottom line: the heart and the brain together are linked in the actions of receiving, processing, and decoding intuitive information. The concluding hypothesis was that intuition is a system-wide process in which the heart and the brain (and possibly other body organs or systems) are involved together in responding to intuitive information. According to the author of The Intuitive Compass, Francis Cholle, the best decisions result from a combination of intuition and rational thinking. Unfortunately, many disregard their intuitive hunches—to their detriment. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Intuition and Gender Differences

In research related to intuition, some gender differences were noted. Females seemed more attuned to intuitive information from the heart and were more responsive to prestimulus information than were males. Processes in the prefrontal cortex were moderated by the heart. In general, females appear to process the prestimulus more frontally; males process it more in the posterior portions of the brain. The bottom line: the heart and the brain together are linked in the actions of receiving, processing, and decoding intuitive information. The concluding hypothesis was that intuition is a system-wide process in which the heart and the brain (and possibly other body organs or systems) are involved together in responding to intuitive information.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Heart and Intuition

Until very recently the prevailing belief was that intuition was related only to the brain and nervous system. Recent studies have found surprising electrophysiological evidence of intuition with a definite heart component. Researchers discovered that the heart appears not only to receive intuition information but also to respond to it. Furthermore, the heart is directly involved in processing the information about a future emotional stimulus seconds before the body actual experiences the stimulus. The heart seems to receive intuitive information even before the brain. In the brain, the prefrontal cortex, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions all appear to be involved with the processing of the information. So the brain and the heart work together to produce the flashes of insight or the gut feelings by which intuition is characterized. More tomorrow. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Brain and Intuition

Recently there seems to be an uptick of interest in the function of intuition. Many individuals have had an intuitive flash of insight or gut awareness of something that had not yet occurred—only to have that insight or gut awareness proven later on to be correct. The common belief has been that intuition was primarily a function of the brain or mind. How to explain what has happened, however, is a horse of a different color. What is intuition? There are many definitions floating around. An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine defines intuition as a process by which information that is normally outside the range of cognitive processes is immediately sensed and perceived in the body and mind as certainty of knowledge or feeling about the totality of a thing distant or yet to happen. This experience is very different from the processing of normal awareness that occurs incrementally. Intuition is a sense of the whole all at the same time. It can generate a positive sense of excitement or a negative sense of dread. More in the next blog.

Friday, July 8, 2016

How Much Is Enough—Water

The question is simple; the answers have not been and continue to be controversial. The Institute of Medicine reported that an adequate intake for the average man in a temperate climate is about three liters or thirteen glasses of total beverages a day; and two point two liters or about nine glasses for the average women. Mayo clinic writers were correct when they pointed out that studies have produced varying recommendations over the years. Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are, whether you are using a lot of muscle activity in sports or work, the temperature and humidity, and where you live. Water is your most important nutrient, making up about sixty percent of your overall body weight and about three-fourths of your brain. Every body organ and tissue and system needs water. Current recommendations suggest keeping it simple. Unless your doctor has restricted your intake for some medical reason, drink enough water to have at least one pale urine a day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Benefits of Drinking—Water

It’s been rather warm in my neck of the woods lately, which prompted me to make sure I am drinking enough water. For many reasons, the Longevity Lifestyle Matters program encourages the use of pure water (some prefer a squirt of lemon juice in it) as one’s beverage of choice. For example, more than three-quarters of your brain is composed of water—if everything is going well—and it needs water to carry out its myriad functions successfully. But there is much more. Recent studies by Ruepeng An and John McCaffrey of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, the official journal of The British Dietetic Association Ltd, found something else that many may find very interesting. The goal of their study was to examine plain water consumption in relation to the use of beverages that add calories as well as the quality of food ingested among adults in the United States. More tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

The Declaration of Independence likely was not signed on July 4th—at least not by all signers. Neither was July 4th the day the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress. That reportedly happened on July 2nd, 1776. Nevertheless, the annual celebration of remembrance does occur July 4th. What is this: the 340th anniversary or something like that? There are bits of interesting trivia about the July 4th date. For example: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both signed the Declaration of Independence and both were elected to the US Presidency. They both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration: July 4th, 1826. James Monroe died on July 4th 1831, the third President in a row to die on that holiday. So far only one US President was born on July 4th; Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President. Reportedly, Denmark celebrates American Independence on July 4, as well, their National parks supposedly holding the largest July 4th celebrations outside of the United States. The sovereign archipelago known as the Republic of the Philippines—supposedly named for King Phillip II of Spain—also celebrates July 4th as its Republic Day; the day in 1946 when it ceased to be a U.S. territory and was officially recognized as independent. Typically, the July 4th holiday is a day of family and fun and food and fireworks, along with a myriad of other types of celebrations—76 trombones led the big parade, ‘The Music Man’ being a famous musical nod to Independence Day. Whatever you are doing on this day, be grateful for the United States of America—although not flawless, it’s still way ahead of most!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bumper Stickers

A friend of mine sent me some bumper stickers and suggested I stick a few in my blog for variety. I’m good with that.

  • Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they initially appear
  • A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory
  • He who laughs last thinks slowest
  • Time is what keeps everything from happening at once
  • Where there's a will, I want to be in it
  • Time is the best teacher, unfortunately it kills all of its students
  • Dain bramaged
  • Consciousness: That annoying time between naps
  • Why is 'abbreviation' such a long word?
  • If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
  • Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday